Fun, fun! I love Q&A posts, even though you all ask some hard questions. I’m especially unsure when answering questions about homeschooling, which is probably why I have been saving them all up for a single post.
Why am I unsure about homeschooling questions? Because there are so many ways to do it, and it’s so hard to say that one way is The Right Way or The Best Way.
That’s not to say that there are no wrong answers and we should all follow the path that feels right, but like creating a menu, there can be many paths to a healthy diet for the body and the mind. We may share similar goals but have very different circumstances and methods for achieving those goals.
Nonetheless, I’ll gladly answer from my own perspective and hope that others can glean something of value or at least laugh at how far off I am.
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With that disclaimer and with tongue placed firmly in cheek, here we go:
I’ve been teasing Perry lately that he has broken me. I used to be highly organized, and clung tightly to all the concepts you listed above. He is a more happy-go-lucky guy, gliding happily through life, shaking his head in bewilderment at why we moms constantly stress out over the details.
Under his influence, I have gradually relaxed the schedule, the lesson plans and curriculum, the dedicated notebooks and journals, and even the penmanship.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to recreate the institutional schooling experience in your home. That is a system designed for the classroom, and not at all appropriate for the home. There are much better and easier ways to do the job and make homeschooling a part of your daily life rather than trying to make life fit around a school schedule.
A great place to start is Victoria Botkin’s CD, Curriculum Advice. She gives plenty of practical advice for getting started, but also helps sooth the fear and uncertainty that so many new homeschoolers face.
Jennifer Dewingo has a question about homeschooling, too:
My eldest is in 10, so that’s about 3rd grade I think (I don’t use one particular curriculum, so I’m guessing) and I haven’t started her, or the others scholars, on a history and science program. I’m thinking of the history program from AIG that Raising Olives has talked about, but that’s not for another 2 years or so. Do you think this would be a problem or not? We do, of course, talk about history details and basic science knowledge (my husband is a chef, so he enjoys talking about the science of cooking). It’s not like they are clueless about things, just not as saturated with details as their public school counterparts are.
This is a perfect example of when my way might not be a good fit for you and your family, but I don’t think there’s a need to use a structured history program at any point unless you want to, so any time is fine.
In the meantime, just make sure your children are reading plenty of books about history and science, and have them narrate back to you what they have read. Have them write a brief summary of each book. Read aloud to them, both fiction and non-fiction. Listen to audio messages about history – our children loved to hear Bill Potter talk about major battles that changed the course of history and how weapons and fighting techniques changed over the centuries.
If your children are reading good books that bring historical figures to life for them, you’ll be shocked at how much they learn and retain, and you may feel less of a need for a structured program when the time comes.
sarfisch has a really tough question about homeschooling:
I have a schooling question. My baby is 9 months old and I am already stressing about preschool. I live in a large city where there is immense competition to get into the best public schools and even greater competition to get into the best private schools.
My husband and I are seriously considering sending her to a private religious school, but we would have to send her at the age of 3 to secure a spot so (on top of the tuition cost – I won’t even tell you because the cost would make you sick) I am hesitant to “ship off” my baby at such a young age.
Now, getting to my question. I am a working mother, so I have never considered homeschooling an option. Let’s assume I continue to work (I understand your feelings/convictions on mothers’ working), do you believe homeschooling is an option? And if so, how can it be done?
Yes, I think homeschooling is an option for a 2 income family, but why? If you are a Christian – I think you have mentioned in the past that you are – it seems to me you need to examine your goals and ask yourself how you are working toward them. Which is more important: your job, or a Christian education for your daughter? Which type of education moves your family toward its goal: homeschooling, or a private institution that must have your baby from the time she’s 3? If one goal hinders the other, you’ll need to prioritize and make difficult choices.
It’s theoretically possible for a 2 income family to homeschool, but it would be very difficult. I know you can’t possibly provide all the relevant details in an email, but the way you describe the situation seems to set your job at odds with your daughter so that you must give up either her (by shipping her off as a 3yo) or your job for the sake of her education. I know that’s a harsh way to put it, but it’s a hard situation for you.
The question here must be, “What are your goals, and how will you achieve them?”
For us, the answer is that God created each of us to fill a special role in life, and the woman’s role is to be home-centered. A big part of that is child-rearing. While the Bible never specifically prohibits women from working outside the home (some of what the Proverbs 31 woman is outside the home and she is praised for her industriousness), a career outside the home would be a huge roadblock to fulfilling her primary role as a wife and mother.
I think you are beginning to understand the tension between parenthood and an outside career as you wonder how you can give your daughter the upbringing and education you desire for her, yet keep your job.
From: Joede Fleming
First I want to say that I love the way you write. You always seem “real”, not worrying about how other might perceive you. I love that, which is probably why I felt compelled to come to you instead of someone else.
I don’t know many homeschoolers. We have a group in our “area” which is about a 50 mi radius, but they have dropped me as a member because I couldn’t afford the $20 membership fee. Those that I did have contact with at one point were very tight lipped about how their days flowed and how I could help my children learn things they so hated.
I have 6 children, 1 graduates high school this year and hopefully will attend a community college next year to obtain a teachers aide certificate (I know I don’t sound encouraging about this, she has Down syndrome and are hoping the college will grant her access to their classes), an 11yo son who wishes to go to public school much to my chagrin, and those I will homeschool (as of beginning of my official school year) are ages 7, 5, 3, 2.
My will be 7yo does not read yet, and is completely uninterested in anything work related.
This is my first full year schooling so I really need some help in how to teach my 5yo to read, as well as ways to encourage my 7yo.
I just feel lost honestly. We cannot afford to buy new curriculum, my hubby has been out of work for 2yrs and is unable to work due to back problems. I am however going to try and purchase Explode the code as I have heard it is wonderful and also Teaching your child to read in 100 lessons.
I do not have internet access and right now no computer as the video card has gone out.
What can I do to continue educating my children?
I have prayed about this and thought that I was being given signs to return my children to public school but have had nothing but utter anxiety about that thought, which is why I am convinced they need to be home.
Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated. I hope I haven’t made this seem like an overwhelming amount of pressure on you to give me the “right” or “best” answer,becasue those are all individual and I will use what you say as advice and not as what is right and concrete.
God Bless you! Your blog has encourage me, made me smile and given me hope when I needed them all!!
You’re in a difficult and scary situation, but I applaud your determination to homeschool! Remember that your goal is to raise Christian adults, and for this you don’t necessarily need a lot of curriculum or shiny electronics. The Robinson Curriculum is built almost entirely around good books. There’s no need to buy the curriculum itself. With the booklist in hand and a good library, you could almost educate your children for free.
A good library will go a long, long way. Read to your children and with your children, both fiction and non-fiction. You can cover history, science and civics this way without spending a dime. Look for Five in a Row
at your library to get a taste of what you can do with a few good books, then try to expand the concept on your own. You may find that your children enjoy the approach far more than typical textbooks, too.
Read Bible with them every day. We like to gather round the breakfast table and divide up a chapter of Proverbs, with each of us reading a few verses aloud. Then we break up for more private reading.
Have them write something daily – a letter, a short story, a journal entry, a summary of a book they’ve recently finished, copy a poem or a passage of Scripture. Correct their work for spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Spectrum makes inexpensive math workbooks that we like for younger children, and I have even gotten several of these for free from Paperback Swap. Supplement with homemade flashcards.
Listen to Curriculum Advice, above. You’ll be encouraged! You can do this, and God will bless your desire to please Him.
How do handle mealtimes with self-feeding babies/toddlers? I have 3 children, the youngest is 12 months, and each one has loved to feed themself bite size food as soon as they are able. This makes it very convenient for me to do other things (like feed myself) while they eat, but afterwards we’re left with a ginormous mess. I debate whether it’s worthwhile to just save myself the 15 min clean up afterwards and feed them myself. What do you do?
I love that you used the word ginormous. We love that word in our house!
I let my babies and toddlers feed themselves most of the time. We have dogs. There is no mess under the highchair in our house. It’s probably the only floor in my house. I highly recommend this method.
They would lick the kids clean too if I let them, but I prefer to just do a quick wipe-down or even a bath. If you think about it, a bath for a baby or toddler need not take much longer than a diaper change. I don’t even bother to plug the drain. Just strip them down, swish them around a moment with the water running and a wash cloth in my hand, and the job is done.
Oh – don’t forget to put a diaper back on when you’re done, or you’ll have worse messes to worry about.
The other moms are taking questions too: